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Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Page: 5958

Mr ABBOTT (7:03 PM) —I will very briefly indicate that the opposition in this chamber obviously supports the amendments that went through this House earlier today and have now come back to us. The amendments which the opposition made to the original bill, we think, are very significant in terms of policy but, in order to expedite the business of the House and of the Senate, we will not be insisting on them here, nor will we be insisting on them in the Senate.

Ms Macklin —So you don’t want (4) and (5) either?

Mr ABBOTT —I am glad that the minister has indicated that one of our amendments is acceptable to the government. Those that are unacceptable to the government will not be insisted upon, in order to expedite the passage of the legislation.

The government’s original bill was almost thoroughly objectionable in the sense that everything in the government’s original bill took something away from someone, none of the take-aways in the original bill had been flagged by the government prior to the election and there was nothing in the fiscal position that the government discovered after the election that would have justified breach of implicit and, in the case of the baby bonus, explicit commitments. I see no reason why the means testing that the original bill imposes should not have been shared with the general public before the election if that is the position of the government.

Nevertheless, there is one aspect of the bill now before the House—that is, the last-minute amendment which we dealt with earlier today here—which does confer a benefit, and that is the amendment that the minister has alluded to which restores the situation which would have been taken away from charity workers and others on 1 July as an unintended consequence of 2006 legislation, which the then opposition supported. Plainly, the opposition does support the government’s amendment. And, because this amendment will not pass if the opposition insists on those amendments which the government objects to, and because it is important that these charity workers in particular be protected from the unintended consequences of earlier legislation, we certainly do not intend to further delay the passage of the legislation now before the House. As I said, we will not be insisting upon our earlier amendments when it goes back to the Senate tomorrow.

Question agreed to.